53. That’s the number of goals the top-scoring side in Ligue 1 have netted so far this season. And no, it is not PSG. Les Parisiens have scored a solid 32, which puts them joint-tied with league leaders Nice. Rather, it is Monaco who are simply blowing away the competition. Les Rouges-et-Blancs have netted a whopping 21 more times than both Nice and PSG, who are second in terms of goal output. To put that in perspective. Leonardo Jardim’s men have scored only 11 less than PSG and Nice combined.
Not bad for a team who, like the rest of the pack, had to watch PSG canter to the title whilst leaving everyone in the dust. This time around, Monaco are more than ready to be a title aspirant. They are now a title contender. Last weekend’s draw between Les Aiglons and Les Parisiens mean that they can again try to take over top spot, which they did after crushing Bordeaux 4-0.
That match, of course, temporarily took them to top of the Ligue 1 table until the Nice-PSG tie. And it was a notable game due to the impact that one player in particular had on the outcome: Radamel Falcao. It seems like ages ago that the 30-year-old was regarded as one of the top strikers in Europe. That is, until an unfortunate knee injury scuppered his World Cup dreams, and with it came two years in what can be best described as a footballing purgatory.
From Manchester to London – Falcao’s miserable two years
First was a spell with Manchester United in a deal that had many scratching their heads. Falcao was paid a whopping £265,000 per week, and the Red Devils paid £6 million to bring him in on loan, with an option to buy for another £43.5 million. Despite their reservations, fans afforded him respect and hoped that the Theatre of Dreams would be where the Colombian ace could revive his career.
Unfortunately, that did not work out as planned. Four goals in 29 appearances was not enough to earn the Monaco man a permanent move, and by far the nadir of his time there was when Louis Van Gaal forced him to play for the U-21 side.
After a time like that, most players would be sent swiftly back to their parent club. Falcao, on the other hand, got another chance, this time at Chelsea. The fact that his agent – Jorge Mendes – is also Jose Mourinho’s representative certainly played a role in the move to Stamford Bridge. Yet, despite given another chance to restart in the Premier League, Falcao’s spell in a Blues kit was just that: blue. He made just 12 appearances for the London giants (whilst scoring one goal) before heading back to Monaco, and the general feeling was that his time was up.
There’s no place like home: Monaco and Falcao off to a great reunion
Although he started off well at Monaco, Falcao again succumbed to injury earlier on this season. Given his track record, many already decided to write him off.
How wrong they were. To date, he has netted four goals in five Champions League appearances, and ten in 11 Ligue 1 matches. In total, that’s 14 goals in 16 appearances for Monaco across all competitions. Not since the 2010/2011 season, when he scored 16 league goals for Porto, has he been able to hit double digits. And mind you, those 16 goals were in 22 appearances. So, if one were to use a purely numbers ratio, at this pace, his output for Monaco would be 20 in the same number of games.
Numbers theory aside, this past weekend he scored a hat-trick in Monaco’s 4-0 rout of Bordeaux. That was the first time in four years he had achieved that feat, and having made his name in the Europa League, he now has a chance to continue his Champions League adventure with Monaco next February. It certainly is no coincidence that Falcao’s revival has coincided with Monaco’s resurgence. And it goes without saying that Monaco supporters will hope that their skipper can continue in this same vein of form as they hope to finally knock PSG off the title perch Les Parisiens have called home for the past few seasons.
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